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Literature / Cat Royal

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An ongoing series by Julia Golding, set in the late 1700s, follows the adventures of orphan Catherine "Cat" Royal. The books are told in the first person. The series so far:

The Diamond of Drury Lane: Cat is introduced as the heroine. She lives and works at the Drury Lane theater, where she was abandoned as an infant and taken in by the owner, Mr Sheridan. Her main adversary is Billy "Boil" Shepherd, a gang leader, and her oldest friend is Syd Fletcher, who leads the opposing street gang against Billy. She makes friends with Pedro, an escaped slave now working at the theater as a musician and actor; Johnny or Lord Jonathan Fitzroy, also working at the theater and as the political cartoonist "Captain Sparkler", a runaway lord, and the love interest of Lady Elizabeth of Avon; and Lord Francis and Lady Elizabeth of Avon. The mystery of the book is: What is the Diamond of Drury Lane?

  1. Cat Among the Pigeons: Pedro's old slave master, Mr. Hawkins, is after him. Cat manages to get on the wrong side of Mr. Hawkins and has to run away, disguise herself as a boy, and enroll in Lord Francis's - or 'Frank', as he is referred to from now on - school. She has to save Pedro and stop him from getting recaptured. Billy "Boil" Shepherd shows a (very slightly) better side of himself - but after saving Cat's life, demands a favor in return from Cat.

  2. Den of Thieves: Drury Lane is being demolished, Cat has a bad experience with a tricky publisher, and Billy has called in his favour, demanding the impossible task of getting a piece of the crown jewels, or Cat staying with him. Mr. Sheridan sends her as a spy to France during the French Revolution (mainly out of curiosity as to what's going on). The duke and duchess of Avon are imprisoned, as well as their children Francis and Elizabeth. With the help of Johnny, and J-F, local 'King of Thieves', Cat has to find out a way to get her friends free from prison, while trying to avoid the new dangers of J-F's world.

  3. Cat o'Nine Tails: Cat, Syd, Frank and Pedro find themselves pressganged into the British navy (for someone's ulterior motives). After escaping, Cat meets up with some Native Americans. She needs to find her way back to her friends, and work out who is responsible for the pressganging.

  4. Black Heart of Jamaica: Cat and Pedro decide to earn a living as a duet of acting and music. The two travel to Jamaica and learn that slavery is still common - and that Mr. Hawkins has made an appearance. He kidnaps Cat and she falls ill with malaria. Billy rescues her but forces her to own a slave. Cat then gets involved with a slave revolt, but Pedro tells her to leave while he helps his fellow Africans get freedom. She and Billy leave together.

  5. The Middle Passage: A short novella mostly centering around Cat and Billy bonding.

  6. Cat's Cradle: Upon her return to London, Cat receives a letter which could contains clues to the identity of her real family. She travels to Scotland with her new friend Bridgit to find out if the letter is true, eventually leading her to discover her half-brother, Rabbie.

These books contain examples of the following tropes:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Cat/ Billy, although Cat/Syd could also qualify, seeing as Syd is a gang leader, albeit fair and a nice guy generally.
    • J-F qualifies, considering his thief-king status.
  • Berserk Button: Syd's is hearing that Billy had kissed Cat.
  • Big Entrance: Cat and Pedro get a pretty impressive one near the end of Cat O’Nine Tails, when they ride a horse into the middle of an upper class party. Oh, and Cat is dressed like a Native American, complete with bow and arrows.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Syd towards Cat. It doesn't seem to be requited.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cat, all the way. No matter how many sticky situations she gets herself into, she makes up for her tiny stature by always getting the last word.
  • Disguised in Drag: Johnny has to do this near the end of the first book, in order to flee the country.
  • Doorstop Baby: Cat, although not a completely traditional example, as she was a toddler who Mr Sheridan found sat outside the theatre upon his return. In Cat's Cradle, Cat's aunt claims her mother (long dead), watched to make sure she was taken inside.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Subverted but justified with Cat because she's tiny and doesn't do much damage - physically at least.
  • Fiery Redhead: Cat.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Justified since it's set in the eighteenth century, but just for confused readers, "fag" had a different meaning then.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Cat with anyone, considering how short she is. Most prominent with Syd, who's around 6 feet and is muscular from boxing.
  • Jerkass:
  • Richmond, in Book 2, who is both the son of a planter (and thus, a slave owner) and also takes the lead in Cat's beating.
  • Hawkins, Pedro's cruel former master who tries to reclaim him And brings down hell on both Pedro and Cat when he is thwarted.
  • Maclean, who serves as Cat's principle tormentor aboard the Courageous.
  • Dixon turns out to be one, having arranged the press-ganging of Cat and Frank so as to receive Frank's title and inheritance upon his death.
  • Patient Childhood Love Interest: A rare male version is Syd's feelings for Cat. He's aware that it may be some time before she 'knows her heart' enough to give him an answer.
  • Rebel Lord: Johnny, who completely renounces all claims to nobility, and never seems to regret this.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Most upper-class citizens get by this way.
  • Stalker with a Crush: To some extent, Billy towards Cat. Granted, he doesn't love her by any typical definition of the word (considering he's engaged to a beer heiress for the money and has no plans to renege on that agreement. However, he did keep the lock of hair he forcibly took from her, kiss her, and has gone out of his way to help her more than a few times.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Cat,more than once. In the first book, she dresses as a boy to go watch Syd in a boxing match, and has apparently made a habit of this. In Cat Among the Pigeons and Cat O’Nine Tails she has to do this for longer periods, in order to hide out at Frank's school, and to work in the navy (not by choice), respectively.
  • The Rival: Syd and Billy for one another, as rival gang leaders. Lately, though, Billy has moved on to bigger and more lucrative ventures. Not to mention both of them are attracted to Cat. Syd especially is displeased with this development, considering the knowledge that Billy had kissed Cat made him angry enough to lose his mind and punch Cat. She deliberately provoked him with that knowledge, though.
  • True Love's Kiss: Subverted - Syd is absolutely in love with Cat, but she's not entirely sure if she returns his feelings. Also averted in Cat o'Nine Tails when Billy forces a kiss with Cat.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Lots, because Cat has about four potential love interests (possibly more depending on who you ask.)
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Averted with Billy, who threatens to beat Cat up anyway because "you may be a girl, but you're not a lady." Played straight with Syd up until Cat o'Nine Tails when Cat purposely taunts him until he punches her. Afterwards Syd feels absolutely terrible.